Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mikawadizi Storms

ImageI’m closing in on completion of the first draft of a novel called Mikawadizi Storms (nee Lost Shadows). Backbone of the plot is the opening of an iron ore mine in the Mikawadizi Hills, pitting the mine owner, Clive Gready, and his chorus of politicians against the local Indian tribe, the La Roche Verte Band and a few allies. It’s all fiction; in fact, it’s magical realism, but the underlying conflict will be familiar to people in Wisconsin. Main characters include: Evelyn Arnold, a thirty-something woman shaken out of the track her life was on by infertility issues. She becomes a freelance journalist who decides to cover the mine controversy. Edward Commercant, a young Indian  torn between traditional Indian culture and western culture. Clive Gready (pronounced Grādy), mentioned above. Lotta Moore, runs Moore’s Bed and Breakfast, an long standing house of prostitution in the small town of Squirrely. Wesley Dubois (a.k.a Old Ham Pockets), an old Indian man constantly followed by a pack of stray dogs because he once fed them his commodity ham. There are many other characters. The narrative is organized into 40 chapters, each named for a character, each around 2,000 words, most told in linear time but a few out of sequence.

Where’s the magic? Here are a few tastes: Lotta’s whore house is well over 100 years old but it maintains itself in like-new condition and immaculately clean with no help from anyone living there. It does the same for the women living there. Evelyn carries a stuffed cat with her always, physical anchor for the ghost of her long dead cat, Fluffy. William Dubois metamorphs into a butterfly to lead an army of butterflies against a battery of evil spirits released from the earth when the mine pit gets too deep. Edward Commercant splits into  two young men (twins Ed and Ward) who go their separate ways.

Editing, polishing, and drawing character sketches should take about three months, so I’m planning for a September publication date. This is one of my favorite points in writing a novel – close enough to the final product I can see how the many parts integrate. My other favorite point is the beginning, where inspiration and creativity can run wild.

photo from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=1232&picture=orange-butterfly&large=1)

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Putting the Magic into Magical Realism: Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

ImageSierva Maria de Todos los Angeles, the twelve-year-old daughter of a ruined Marquis languishing in a decaying South American coastal city in the early 19th century is bitten by a rabid dog. Does she contract rabies? Or is she possessed? A constellation of bizarre characters with peculiar ways cluster near this simple story hub and weave Garcia-Marquez’s magic around it. The story’s narrator, a journalist assigned to an unpromising story two hundred years later, witnesses discovery of the girl’s skull, still attached to her remarkable red hair–so thick and long it must be braided and wrapped to keep it from under her feet. He undertakes discovery and telling of her story.

Who are these characters? The girl’s step-mother, Bernarda Cabrera, the Marquis’s second wife, is a woman from the merchant classes, former trader in flour and slaves, who later in life  falls in love with the beautiful slave Judas Iscariote and becomes addicted to violent sex, cacao and fermented honey. The girl’s father, Don Ygnacio de Alfaro y Duenas, the second Marquis de Casalduero is a ‘funereal, effeminate man, as pale as a lily because the bats drained his blood while he slept.’ In a characteristic failure of good judgment (and the will to go with) he takes his daughter’s care out of the hands of the Jewish doctor Abrenuncio de Sa Pereira Cao, a rare voice of reason in a world of twisted Catholic raving — a man who keeps his horse alive for one-hundred years — and hands her over to the Bishop. The bishop, a man of titanic obesity, suspects demonic possession and assigns Cayetano Delaura, an intellectual priest-librarian with a passion for forbidden books, to conduct her exorcism. The girl, after all, was brought up by black slaves, worshiping Yoruban gods, singing African songs, speaking African languages. She wears their charm necklaces. Surely there’s something there needing exorcism. Cayetano, of course, falls in love with the girl for whom he’s responsible. His love, and her exorcism, eventually handled by the Bishop himself, lead ultimately and inevitably to the girl’s early death.

Garcia-Marquez here contrasts the systematic delusions and institutionalized madness of the conquering Europeans (in this case, mainly displaced Spaniards) with a vital, natural, self-confident world of the ‘uncivilized’ (in this case mainly Africans brought to South America to build upon the wealth of their captors. In this brilliant narrative the Spaniard’s world is worn-out, decaying, bereft of spirit and reason, while the alternative, the gurgling, fertile, breathing world of the slave quarters, is not altogether of this world. The contrast is startling, insightful, and full of good humor. I recommend it without reservation or hesitation.

A taste…

“Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.”

“Disbelief is more resistant than faith because it is sustained by the senses.”

“This was when she asked him whether it was true that love conquered all, as the songs said. ‘It is true’, he replied, ‘but you would do well not to believe it.”

“He said that love was an emotion contra natura that condemned two strangers to a base and unhealthy dependence, and the more intense it was, the more ephemeral.”

“Her movements were so stealthy that she seemed to be an invisible creature. Frightened by her strange nature, her mother had hung a cowbell around the girl’s wrist so she would not lose track of her in the shadows of the house.”

Of Love and Other Demons (Del Amor y Otros Demonios) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Edith Grossman. 147 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf 

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